How To Be More Successful At Horse Shows

Horse shows are probably the best past time activity for all the horse lovers where you can watch the competitions and interact with other fellow equestrians. However, if you are attending the horse show as a competitor, things might not be easy and you might feel stressed the whole time. Either the first show or the fiftieth show, every rider wants to become more successful and bring the prize home with their horses. We know that you have been training hard to win that rosette or cup for a long time and stress will only distract you throughout the show. With some simple tips, you can avoid stress and make sure that everything will go smoothly on your way to success! 


Modeling: @lieveberndsen_dressage  - Photography: @susan_elbert_photography


  • Prepare Your Mind and Body

  • Since the day you started training for your first show, you are an athlete! It means that you need to be strong both mentally and physically. You can try to have regular life and avoid stressful activities during your training and especially before the show day. You will encounter difficulties and you should be mentally ready for the worst scenario.



    Besides the mental strength, you need physical strength to ride better. Keeping a regular exercise program off-the-saddle is proven to help riders perform better during their training and at shows. You can check our blog for Equestrian Fitness Guide!



    Modeling: @amber_steenackers  - Photography: @paardenfotografie_helena_massa

  • Prepare Your Horse


    Preparing a horse for a big show takes a lot of time and effort. The horse needs to be physically ready for the show and must be trained properly in the specific discipline. Don’t forget to consult your veterinarian about the vitamins and nutrients that your horse will need during the training. You can start feeding your horse coat-enhancing grain one month before the show and groom him regularly - every day if possible - to make sure he will have his best shiny coat by the show day. 



    Before arriving at the show location, your horse’s coat and hooves should be ready. If you are planning to clip the coat, do it 1-2 days before taking your horse to the show location. Also, don’t forget to give him a good bath so that the grooming on show day will be easier for you. 



    Hoof care is another important element in horse preparation. Remember to call the farrier a few days in advance because nobody wants to have a lost shoe or untrimmed hooves at the show!




  • Prepare Your Tack and Clothes


    Horse shows are the places where we all want to look our best! Your horse will be shiny but the tack you will use should be shiny too. Before you start packing your tack box, you may need to clean your apparel. Give a detailed cleaning session to the saddle, bridle, stirrups, bits, boots/leg wraps, and any other leather you will need. 



    Just like your horse, you will look elegant and formal to impress the judge! Prepare your clothes and self-care items at least the day before you set off. 



    Photography: @marylineverstraetenphotography




  • Pack Your Things Neatly


    When you are really excited to show up in the arena and compete against some other successful riders, you want everything to be organized. Therefore, you should pack everything neatly, and you should know what is where. Making a preparation checklist is the best way to organize your tack, clothes, tools, and all the other stuff you will need. Before starting to pack your items, take some time to think and note down what you will need for you and your horse. Try to keep the list simple but ensure that every needed item will be with you on the show day. 



    Photography: @marylineverstraetenphotography

  • Learn The Rules and Etiquette


    At many shows, the rules are shared with the riders and trainers several days before the show. These rules are set to avoid confusion and help everyone have a safe and fair competition. If you will compete, you need to learn the rules of the show. Communicating with your trainer about the rules can help you clarify what you need to know. When you are uncertain about something, don’t hesitate to ask your trainer or another rider.



    Learning the horse show etiquette is also as important as learning the competition rules. There are many unwritten etiquette rules you will need if you want your show experience to go smoothly. Especially, in the warm-up arena and other places where you need to interact with other riders and horses, respecting the horse show etiquette can save everyone’s day. You can see our blog about Horse Show Etiquette for more details.


  • Race in Your Comfort Zone


    Whichever discipline you ride and want to compete in, you know your own comfort zone better than anyone. If you are a dressage rider and you think you won’t be able to remember the test at that level, try something easier for you. If you are a showjumper and you have started training at 80cm, consider competing at 70cm. In addition to your comfort zone, consider your horse’s comfort zone as well. You know his reactions to different levels of riding and if you don’t think he won’t be able to do well at that level, compete in something he can do the best. You don’t need to push yourself and your horse to do something beyond your training. You can try to compete at higher levels once you finish training and you both are ready!



    Photo by: @the_little_equestrian


  • Get There Earlier


    Rushing to the show location and preparing your horse in a rush will bring nothing but extra anxiety and stress. However, you can prepare your bags and boxes the day before, wake up early, prepare and load your horse to the trailer early, arrive at the location early. Once you arrive early, you will have enough time to get accustomed to the area and relax. Your horse will have enough time to destress after the road and you can have a longer warmup. All these will reduce your stress and allow you to compete better to achieve success. 




  • Be Proud of You and Your Horse


    Do your best in every single step of this tiresome yet enjoyable process, and know that you deserve to be proud. No matter if you win or lose the competition… Be proud of your equine companion and don’t forget to thank him at the end of the day. Be sure that he did his best as much as you did. Some treats and pats or cuddles can add some extra joy to your day after the show! 



    Photography: @marylineverstraetenphotography

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